L'Amour Supreme Interview by Digital Future

January 28, 2021

L'Amour Supreme Interview by Digital Future


Hailing from the Bronx, L’Amour Supreme grew up in the cultural epicenter of New York City in the 70’s and 80’s, during a period of time that has come to be regarded as a renaissance of subcultural, anti-establishment art.

It’s not uncommon to hear those that grew up in the city during this time describe it as ‘rough’ or ‘hard’, some even going so far as to describe it as ‘lawless’. In the case of Supreme, change and adversity are seen instead as an opportunity for growth, learning, and artistic expression. From spending formative years in the storied confines of venues like CBGB’s and Pyramid Club and seeing Keith Haring’s work plastered on subway cars to experiencing the birth of rap music, subway art, and hardcore punk all at the same time, Supreme bore witness to the inception of most popular culture as we know it. Through his involvement in the New York City art scene, Supreme was not only a witness to this cultural revolution but an active participant, becoming a part of an elite vanguard of creatives whose impact has transcended time.
Our interview was conducted via FaceTime.
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Digital Future: Yo L’Amour, what’s going on man?
How’s it going? Can you hear me okay?

DF: I can!
Sweet.

DF: How ya’ doing?
Awesome, good man. How’re you?

DF: Another day in paradise.
[laughter]
Are you in Phoenix?


DF: Yeah.
Have you been in Brooklyn the entire quarantine?
No, I was in Bushwick when it started then moved back to my apartment. My girlfriend lived in Bushwick until she lost her job so she had to go back to Norway.


DF: Norway, wow.
During the summertime, I was alone so I had the best summer of my life. Then I got rid of my apartment and I decided to go to Norway. They were allowing what is called the ‘sweetheart clause’ which means if you have a [partner] in Norway, they just have to sign something and they let you in. Now it’s more regulated with getting tested at the airport and retested after 5 days but I just dodged that rule when I went over.


DF: How long were you in Norway?
I was there for a little over a month.


DF: Had you been to Norway before this trip?
No, but it was fucking amazing dude. It’s like a fairytale.


DF: That’s awesome dude, I’m glad to hear that it was a nice time. I’ll start with a few questions on collaboration and your process, if that’s okay? Have you had to change any of your creative habits or your artistic process since the pandemic has started?
No, I feel as if I’ve been given more time. We’re artists so we’re always going to be creating. Now there is less distraction, it’s full-on creative mode all the time and the days start to blend into one another. I wake up, I start working, then I put the thing [I’m working on] down and go to bed. Work and life have melded together.


DF: Would you say that’s for better or for worse?
I fucking love it. I’ve been able to see this year differently than most people, like when people experience the same work of art differently. That’s how I’ve felt the year 2020 has been for me, it’s just been a vastly different experience. I’m grateful for 2020.


DF: As the king of collaboration, has the process changed at all for you now having to do them almost entirely virtually?
The process hasn’t really changed for me at all. I primarily work alone but the conception of the collaboration has changed, now it’s all handled through email. Before, I’d be at a trade show party and I would be approached over drinks. I can’t say much has changed but I can say I’m more productive now.


DF: When collaborating, what does the process look like? How often are you referencing things, whether it be your own work or the work of another artist?
I’m always referencing something, whether it be through hidden messages or directly, but for the most part it’s all about the concept. If it feels forced I’m usually not down with it.

 


DF: Are you self-referential at all? Do you like to look back at your old work?
I think it just comes up, you know like I don’t have to look at it but sometimes when I’m creating I’ll recognize something I would have done 10 years ago. It usually will just happen naturally. I’m not looking back at something I did 10 years ago saying, ‘I need to recreate this’ but instead noticing it while I’m working.


DF: What drew you to the Timeless collaboration?
I’m always about good products and good product design, like the packaging.


DF: It’s a whole experience for you.
Exactly, so when I was introduced to the device through some of my homies I thought it was unique because it had the case. I thought to myself, ‘This is a canvas’. So that’s when I got in touch. It was just such a natural collaboration process where I was really free to do what I wanted to do, design-wise. I was imagining an old poster of a magician and it was just perfect.


DF: What I found to really appreciate and to be really interesting about your collaborative work is that you really transform the items you’re designing for. Is that something you’ve always set out to do?
Totally. When I start to pull references for pieces, I really like to go through and transform old ideas. You could say it’s recycled art in a weird way, where you’re taking these characters and creating a new story for them. [The story] is told by you so you can also incorporate your own characters [to] tell even more stories and it just solidifies what you do.


DF: Changing gears, what was it like growing up in the Bronx and how did it affect your relationship with art?
I grew up there in the 70’s and the 80’s, so keep in mind how prolific that era was for art, film, and music. It was everywhere. My dad worked in the city so my mom would take us there for dentist appointments or whatever, so I was exposed to so much through things like graffiti and hip-hop culture literally being born in front of my eyes. So it was that, then going to hardcore matinees at CBGB’s on Sunday.


DF: 80’s NYHC is my niche so this sounds like a dream.
Dude yeah, my mom passed away when I was 16 so I was kind of out on my own when I turned 18 and I was living on the Lower East Side and living with Richie from Underdog. Do you know Underdog?


DF: Absolutely.
‘Into Another’?


DF: Hold up, let me show you something. [I return with my favorite vintage Into Another tee from my closet]
I remember the day I was walking with Rich and he told me was starting a new band and he wanted me to do some artwork for it. I go ‘Yeah? What’s it called?’ He tells me it’s called Into Another. I asked him if it was hardcore and he said ‘Nah man, it’s so much different from hardcore. [laughter]


DF: It’s definitely different from hardcore.
After I heard it I told him, ‘Yeah dude this is totally you and now you can break out the falsetto.’ I remember standing on the corner of Avenue A and 9th street with Richie and Jimmy [Gestapo] of Murphy’s Law just drinking beer and all of sudden we saw a bunch of homeless people running down the street, throwing Molotov cocktails, and being chased by police. A day in the life of the Lower East Side.


DF: That’s actually insane. How did you get linked up with that crew?
I was airbrushing at Unique Clothing Warehouse, which was a spot in the village that’s now the NYU bookstore. I got a job there because I was going to SVA (School of Visual Arts in NYC) and I got hooked up with a band to do some work then I started hanging around and crashing at their apartment. They played with everyone in the scene, especially at CBGB’s, Limelight, and Pyramid Club. It was a scene, yeah know?

 


DF: Is there a specific show at CBGB’s you’ll never forget?
Bad Brains in ‘84. It wasn’t my first show but I was just getting into it and watching H.R. thrash around on stage you knew it wasn’t the ‘status quo’. I didn’t think I realized it at the time that it was an important show, culturally, it was like ‘We’re at some weird show on the Lower East Side of New York City’. My parents probably would have punished me if they knew I was down there.


DF: That’s one of my bucket list experiences if I could travel back in time. Shifting back into question mode, who or what were you looking to for inspiration?
Graffiti was like a big thing for me. It was a culture that as a kid I couldn’t understand. Not being able to really understand the letters, it just seemed like vandalism but then you’d see the doors of a train open and you’d see a Keith Haring chalk drawing and be like ‘Whoa’. It was like alien shit. For me, and most people, graffiti really took off right after Subway Art came out. I think that’s when graffiti was like an explosion.


DF: When I’m going through a majority of your work it seems as though you’re working in a physical, even tactile medium. Are you afraid of an art world that’s 100% digital?
I work mostly digital now.


DF: [Visibly taken aback at the response, I watch LAmour pick up his iPad and hold it up to the small FaceTime camera]
With this, I can work anywhere in the world. This is all I need and wifi. When has in the history of art has anyone had anything like this? This is all they need. I can make a Renaissance painting, a quick logo graphic, a sketch and it’s all in the palm of my hand. This is the future.


DF: Were you quick to make the switch to digital?
It’s whatever works for me. Usually, whatever is best for time. Before the iPad I would ink everything on paper and scan it, which was a process, then I would color everything in with a Wacom tablet, remember those? [laughter]
The iPad Pro came out and it was way better than my current set up and it was portable so it was game over.


DF: I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for this answer at all. I felt as if you would have a natural hesitance to reject digital art creation.
A quick funny story, one time I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I was working on a digital piece that you see behind me.
[Gestures to a piece of art behind him on camera]
I asked myself if I was cheating because I was creating it digitally but I was making it look like an oil painting. I was looking at a Van Gogh or another painting from an old master and a voice came into my head and said “Do you understand that they would be using all available technology if they were alive today?” It’s so true, why would you stay stuck with the availability of technology we have? I wouldn’t just stick to a physical medium because I feel like you’ll get left behind if you stick with one format.


DF: I think it’s a polarizing topic within the art community and I love hearing both sides. I think there is a valid argument both for and in opposition of digitization, but whatever tools help artists to achieve their vision, I say go for it.
Exactly. I hope to see the day the next big thing comes out and makes this thing obsolete.
[Gestures to iPad]


DF: How much of your work is done digitally now? More or less than 50%?
More than 50%. That’s why the physical stuff is special.


DF: Wrapping up here, what are you looking forward to in 2021?
I don’t really have any big plans but I would like to visit Norway to experience all the seasons. Overall, I would like to travel more. That’s what I miss most from 2020.



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